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African Francophone NHRIs commit to contributing effectively to implementing Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights


National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in African French speaking countries adopted Tuesday 29 September 2015 in Rabat (Morocco) a declaration to effectively contribute to implementing the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  

The declaration cements the African Francophone NHRIs’ determination to effectively implement the guiding principles and the UN ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework”. It calls on NHRIs to develop business and human rights strategies and adopt specific plans of action for 2016-2017. Under the new declaration, these NHRIs will advocate for the adoption of national plan of actions on business and human rights and commit to working with all stakeholders, at the national level, to promote and implement the UN guiding principles and the three pillar framework. They will engage competent public authorities and business enterprises, facilitate access to remedies and, perhaps most importantly, contribute to the process of an international legally binding instrument on business and human rights.

The declaration was adopted at the end of a two-day workshop on business and human rights (28-29 September 2015) held at the (Moroccan) National Human Rights Council’s training institute in Rabat, by the Francophone Association of National Human Rights Commissions (AFCNDH), the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) and the National Human Rights Council. The workshop discussed the role of African national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in French-speaking communities in the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Delegates from several NHRIs in French-speaking African countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Togo) took part in the workshop, in addition to CNDH’s regional human rights commissions, representatives from the private sector, trade unions and NGOs.

The workshop was an opportunity to provide the delegates with practical knowledge and tools to work in this relatively new paradigm of business and human rights, to advocate for national plans on business and human rights, and to contribute, once such plans are adopted by their respective countries, to their effective implementation. The participants also reflected on how NHRIs can best tackle business-related human rights abuses and allegations.   

The participating NHRIs identified potential business and human rights focal points, within each institution, to coordinate their actions and share experiences and best practices.

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are international standards initially proposed by John Ruggie, UN Special Representative on Business & Human Rights. They were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011, in its resolution # A/HRC/RES/17/4

The Principles were designed to implement the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, which rests on three core pillars: (1) the duty of the State to protect against human rights abuses by, or involving, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, (2) the corporate responsibility to respect all human rights, and (3) the need for access to effective remedies, including through appropriate judicial or non-judicial mechanisms.